The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
– George Bernard Shaw
When I was younger, my mother always told me I had a knack for translating life into powerful metaphors. A super-power? I think not, it was more so my way of relating to the world; I always considered myself more of a visual learner than anything else. Over some casual drinks with a friend, we were discussing various topics such as life, women, and work when an image of a young boy reaching for an apple from an apple tree floated across my mind…
As we mature and grow taller, we are later able to reach higher to pick the more supple, decadent apples. Eventually, most plateau, continuing to graze on the apples easily within reach. A select few continue to grow, reaching the best apples atop the tree, while others never seem to quite gain traction and continue to graze from the lowest hanging apples. This metaphor of the low hanging fruit can be related to many parts of life, from finding a significant other, to seeking your role in life.
The low hanging fruit symbolizes that which comes easiest to us in life. This establishes our comfort zone. In general, we are conditioned to accept and remain satisfied with that which is presented to us or is the result of the structure we operate in. We become the subject of our “reality” when reality is merely a matter of perception, subject to your environment. It’s said that hitting a fastball is one of the toughest feats in professional sports. Standing at home plate as a professional baseball player, the ball is perceived as being hittable. This is no doubt a result of years of playing baseball, training, and experience, but is also set by one’s expectations. Now, compare that to you or I. Chances are you’d be nervous, shaking from the pressure of thousands watching, not to mention the fact that a ball of thread and leather will soon be hurled at you at over a 100 mph. Your perception of hitting the ball is that it is unhittable; hitting the ball would be considered luck, rather than as another day on the job. Of course a certain level of skill comes into play; however, you will never try to hit the ball if you do not perceive it as hittable.
This same concept applies to what we have a tendency to reach for in life. I’ve been exposed to families of wealth and families of poverty and in general I’ve observed that people from wealth have the expectation to be successful, to be a business owner, or to be an entrepreneur. Regardless of their intelligence, skills, or capabilities, this is their reality; or better said, their perception of reality. For people from low to middle-class families tend to have lower expectations; to just get a “good” job with “good” benefits that can support a family and decent lifestyle; that is their perception of reality.
I recently read piece on the concept of ‘framing.’ If I were to ask you, “what’s your favorite flavor of ice cream, strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate?” I’ve just set the frame. A frame in which you must operate. Most people will select one of the three options, regardless of what’s truly their favorite ice cream. Now, if I were to ask simply, ”What’s your favorite ice cream?” The options are limitless. Mackinac Island Fudge ice cream would be mine! This same concept applies to how we navigate through life; our decisions and expectations are limited to our frames.
One day, as I listened to my colleagues debate over what was the best way to get promoted, I asked myself, “Since when did inching my way up to the next rung on the ladder become my goal in life?” My frame had been set without me knowing it! Promotion became the next reachable, low-hanging fruit. Personally, I seek to play a bigger game in life than jumping through hoops that someone else has created for me. From one of my favorite movies, The Count of Monte Cristo, Napolean Boneparte has a line in which he says, “All men are either kings or pawns.” Personally, I prefer to be the former.
Has your frame been set around the low hanging fruit?